As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances. Timlin, an investigator from the National Organ Registry, obsessively tracks their movements, which is when a mysterious group is revealed… Their mission – to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution.
“Crimes of the Future is a meditation on human evolution.
Specifically - the ways in which we have had to take control of the process because we have created such powerful environments that did not exist previously.
Crimes of the Future is an evolution of things I have done before. Fans will see key references to other scenes and moments from my other films. That’s a continuity of my understanding of technology as connected to the human body.
Technology is always an extension of the human body, even when it seems to be very mechanical and non-human. A fist becomes enhanced by a club or a stone that you throw - but ultimately, that club or stone is an extension of some potency that the human body already has.
At this critical junction in human history, one wonders - can the human body evolve to solve problems we have created? Can the human body evolve a process to digest plastics and artificial materials not only as part of a solution to the climate crisis, but also, to grow, thrive, and survive?”
What is Crimes of The Future about?
David Cronenberg: In 1966 I saw a Danish movie called Sult which means hunger in Danish, and it was based on a famous Danish novel by Knut Hamsun, which was directed by Henning Carlsen. In that movie the Per Oscarsson plays a poet, a sort of a broken, unrecognized poet who wanders the streets and has adventures and tries to create himself as a legitimate poet, literary force. At one point he’s on a bridge and he’s scribbling something in a pad that he carries with him, and you have a close up of it and it says “crimes of the future,” and that really struck me. I thought, I want to read that poem. Of course he never writes it, but later I thought, well now that I’m starting to become a filmmaker I think I would like to see the movie Crimes of the Future, and so in 1970 I made an underground film, very low budget to say the least, called Crimes of the Future. The title really provoked me, and I think that 1970 low-budget, sort of underground film didn’t ever really satisfy all of the things that I thought could come out of that poem that never got written and so here we are many years later, like half a century maybe and I’ve made another movie called Crimes of the Future, and the only thing the two films have in common is that they are technically about “crimes of the future.” The idea then being that as technology changes, as society changes, things that didn’t exist have come into existence and are suppressed for various reasons as being dangerous to society or a threat to whatever social structure exists, hence Crimes of the Future. I start to think about the human body because I have always thought that was what we are. The human condition is the human body, so Crimes of the Future could involve crimes that come out of what is happening to the human body… as it does evolve, it is changing, it’s changing in very subtle ways and then some not so subtle ways. Partly it’s because of what we’re doing to the planet, partly it’s what we’re doing to ourselves with our own technology and so that intrigued me. I thought I’d like to now make a movie that has to do with how society would react to changes in the human body that it thought were dangerous, were considered dangerous and should be suppressed. I thought that was an interesting topic for me to explore and that therefore is what the movie, Crimes of the Future is about.
What’s the short answer?
I’d say Crimes of the Future is about the crimes committed by the human body against itself, and I know that that’s kind of mysterious and kind of confusing but that’s my answer to that question.2
Devika Girish: All your movies deal with the boundaries between the body and technology. In Crimes, you really emphasize how art mediates that boundary, which is maybe a false boundary. In your work, art often makes the things that feel transgressive or scary or unacceptable, acceptable. When you enter the space of art, you can do anything.
David Cronenberg: Yes. I think that is a legitimate observation on your part, but also on my part, in that art can normalize some things that would be criminal, let’s say, or socially unacceptable otherwise. When art is criticized and there is an attempt to repress art, that’s often the excuse. Maybe not filtered through a philosophical understanding but basically saying… for example, Ted Turner wanted to suppress Crash because he thought it would encourage teenagers to have sex in cars.
I know. I was saying, “I didn’t invent that.” [Laughs] I don’t even think he was worried about them crashing as much as having sex in cars, which I thought was odd, since teenagers have been having sex in cars since there were cars and teenagers. So that would have been the excuse: “giving permission.”
Devika Girish in conversation with David Cronenberg3
« Avec son décor de fin du monde, son atmosphère nocturne, sa lumière de crépuscule orange, il est donc difficile de ne pas voir Les Crimes du futur comme un film testamentaire, dont l'aspect récapitulatif est au fond une manière pour Cronenberg de retourner son oeuvre comme un gant, du côté de l'intime, pour boucle une boucle tout en regardant la mort en face. Nous espérons bien que sa filmographie ne s'arrêtre pas là (nombre de films testamentaires ne sons pas les derniers de leurs auteurs), mais cela ne saurait atténuer l'énigmatique émotion du plan final, où la souffrance semble se confondre avec la jouissance, et l'agonie avec la grâce. »
- 1. David Cronenberg, “Director's Statement,” press kit Crimes of the Future.
- 2. Interview with David Cronenberg, press kit Crimes of the Future.
- 3. Devika Girish, “Interview: David Cronenberg on Crimes of the Future,” Film Comment, 6 June 2022.
- 4. Marcos Uzal, « Le crépuscule des organes, » Cahiers du Cinéma, n° 787, mai 2022.